Representative Joe Barton will signal the beginning of play at the World Series of Poker on Saturday, and on Friday the lawmaker gave poker players all across the country reason to believe. Rep. Barton unveiled the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011.
The legislation, if approved, would call for the regulation of online poker, something that poker enthusiasts have been pushing for since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was created back in 2006. Conservative ally Rep. John Campbell is a co-sponsor of the bill.
“This bill provides a needed path toward the regulation of Internet gambling activity in a way that is guaranteed to protect consumers, create new jobs, and grow our economy,” said Michael Waxman, Spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative. “As our nation’s leaders debate how best to spur our economic recovery, they should strongly consider moving on Rep. Barton’s bill and taking control of an already thriving underground industry.”
Individual states would be responsible for issuing licenses to online poker sites. The US Department of Commerce would be officially responsible for monitoring the Internet poker industry. The bill does have some points of contention for online gambling supporters.
One of the stipulations in the legislation is that credit cards could not be used to deposit money into online poker accounts. This will make it more difficult for players to deposit funds, although linking a bank account to the poker account would be an acceptable form of transferring money.
Additionally, licensees will be required to have software safeguards against problem gambling. Self-exclusion technology, much like self-exclusion lists in a land-based casino, will be a requirement as well. The technology to curb underage and problem gambling has come a long way in the past several years, with many countries using the safeguards.
Rep. Barton pointed to the outrage in recent months coming from poker players as a reason he developed the online gambling legislation. In the months since the US Department of Justice cracked down on Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, players have been showering legislative phone lines to voice their displeasure.